Mobility has a significant societal and environmental impact. And it's a topic that consumers are increasingly thinking about. Faurecia set out to explore attitudes to sustainability - lifestyle, mobility, vehicle features - to inform the ways we design, make, distribute, and recycle our products.
In 2021 we conducted a large-scale study to evaluate consumer interest in the topic of sustainable mobility and eco-design in vehicles. Over 6000 individuals were interviewed through an online survey across four countries: USA, France, Germany and China*. It's an example of Faurecia's user-centered approach - seeking consumer insight to shape solutions around what users want and need, led by our Consumer Intelligence and User Experience team.
Sustainable mobility is perceived as key to adopting a more sustainable lifestyle
Changing the way we travel or commute is seen as important as adapting consumption habits to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. At least two out of three respondents globally placed changing mobility habits in their top 3 priorities. This was even stronger in China, where respondents put it as a top priority.
While people recognize the need to change, their willingness to act on this, such as switching to other mobility solutions, varies. Western drivers are not yet ready to give up personal car use and ownership. Respondents in China were more willing to give up use of a personal car, probably reflecting more widespread use of ride-sharing, but less open to the idea of buying a used car. 89% of respondents in China have never bought a second-hand car.
Eco-design is an essential aspect for a more responsible car
The vehicle's engine is no longer the primary feature that makes cars more environmentally responsible in the eyes of consumers. Eco-design is at least as important.
In our study we defined eco-design as how car manufacturers are working to make car interiors more environmentally responsible - using locally produced materials, recycled and/or recyclable materials, more natural materials or even air conditioning technologies and systems which consume less energy. Other elements that contribute to eco-design include manufacturing vehicles with low emission materials and the ability to repair or refurbish to extend life.
Ready to change but no concessions on security and comfort
Respondents showed differing levels of motivation to adopt a more sustainable mobility.
Globally, more were ready to make changes than not: 26% ready to make a lot of effort, 18% some efforts and 9% a financial effort only. Respondents in Germany showed willingness above the global average (27% vs 18%) to make some efforts, and in China almost 1 in 4 of respondents were ready to make a financial effort only.
Today, the ecological footprint of a vehicle is rarely in the top five criteria for choosing a car, and is far behind the criteria of price, safety, reliability or comfort. We explored what concessions people are prepared to accept to acquire a more environmentally responsible car. Globally respondents all showed they are not ready to compromise on safety, shorter lifespan or comfort. However, the trade-off is not the same for each country.
At least 6 out of 10 Western drivers are willing to make concessions on trendiness, design and power. For example a less luxurious passenger compartment, fewer electronic features, smaller or fewer screens. In China, respondents are less willing to make concessions on these dimensions but more willing to pay more for an environmentally friendly car.
The challenge: making eco-design accessible and affordable
Consumers recognize their individual role in making an environmentally responsible choice, alongside the part played by authorities through regulations. However, they primarily count on OEMs to lead the way. At least two thirds of respondents felt that eco-design should not be an option but a manufacturing standard on all cars, and included in the price of a vehicle. This rose to 81% of people surveyed in France.
Economic arguments, such as proof of savings during use and price, are the most effective means to convince people in France, Germany and the USA to buy an eco-designed car. In China, regulations enforced by authorities as well as the physical experience inside the vehicle interior (for example, the feel of materials, the smell of the passenger compartment, the noise of the engine, etc.) were seen as most persuasive.
Faurecia and the sustainable cockpit
Faurecia addresses future mobility needs with safe, affordable and sustainable solutions that benefit our customers, consumers and the planet. Our approach is driven by a commitment to become CO2 neutral by 2030, focusing on three main levers: use less, use better, use longer. Eco-design is not new to the Group, and many breakthrough Faurecia innovations have introduced sustainable materials, lightweight parts and energy-saving technologies that help reduce a vehicle's ecological footprint. In 2021 examples of our contributions to a more sustainable cockpit include
Use less: industry partnership for sustainable design and circular economy
Faurecia, with Renault, the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) and MTB Recycling, created the DECORE (DEcarbonation, COckpit, REcycling/REconditioning) project to decarbonize vehicles of the future through technologies that emit less CO2, are more sustainable, and which increase vehicle lifetime through retrofit and refurbishment. Backed by over €10m of government financing to develop circular economy approaches, DECORE will by 2030 provide cockpits designed with 40% recycled materials and with -85% CO2 impact.
Use better: fossil-free steel
Steel represents around 40% of Faurecia's CO2 emissions for its controlled scopes. Partnering with Swedish steel maker SSAB, we will be the first to develop and equip ultra-low CO2 seat structures with fossil-free steel by 2026.
Use longer: electronics repair
Faurecia offers a multi-brand repair service throughout Europe for a wide range of components including monitors, infotainment, engine and body control units, and instrument panels. By refurbishing, repairing and replacing electronic components, we can reduce their carbon footprint by up to 85%.
* Survey conducted by Harris Interactive in August 2021. Representative sample of car private users and frequent shared or rental cars users in 4 countries : France, Germany, USA and China Tier 1, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou/Foshan and Shenzhen. (6248 interviews, at least 1500 per country)